STAFF REPORTER A 43-year-old man held by police in Palma on suspicion of having murdered Maria Elena Salcedo, a Bolivian woman missing on Majorca since last November, has apparently confessed to his crime.

Luis Rodrigo Q.Q., from Ecuador, allegedly told National Police yesterday that he had killed Salcedo “by accident” after a quarrel at a flat in Palma. He had reportedly taken her body by car to the sa Vinyola housing estate in the municipality of Campos, where he apparently dismembered it using tools from the building trade in which he worked. The accused then said that he threw the body parts along the roadside. Police chief Antoni Cerdà said yesterday that Luis Rodrigo Q.Q. had appeared before magistrates that morning along with three other people accused of “covering up” his crime by not reporting his guilt to the police. Cerdà warned other police investigators that it is highly unlikely they would find the missing head of the 53-year-old victim as the murderer could well have thrown it into a street rubbish container to prevent the cause of her death being discovered. National Police are toying with the theory that the woman died after being struck a heavy blow on the head or by strangulation - which would explain why the accused wanted to make sure the head was never found. The rest of the body parts were apparently thrown into thick vegetation.

Cerdà said that as yet no autopsy had been carried out as it is hoped that more body parts may soon be found. He added that interviews with 20 witnesses had been key to the arrest of the accused. One line of enquiry which eventually led to the finger being pointed at the 43-year-old Ecuadorian was that he had apparently tried to sell his car to several friends so that he could get money to leave Majorca.

Following yesterday's Court hearing, the presiding judge ordered the accused be sent directly to prison to await trial and that the three other Ecuadorians accused of “covering up” the crime be given a conditional discharge.